Very little of note happened on the local scene this week. The same could be said for most weeks. I saw The Man From U.N.C.L.E and Last Night this week – both flawed but with bits to enjoy and you can check out my reviews on the blog. I also put up reviews a couple of brilliant indie efforts that moved my needle: A Girl Who Walks Home Alone at Night and Cop Car. Give them a read too.
I caught Kwesi Apenteng-Mensah, director of the upcoming 14:32 (#ThatFilmFromGhana), on TV putting in some promotion work for his film. His film brings a spice of hip hop to the big screen as he tells the story of two brothers who try to hustle their way to something more than Ghanaian society offers peeps with passions for music and dance. Step Up GH you say? Don’t worry, I thought the same thing.
This film scripted by Judith Affran will need compelling character and some exceptional vibrancy to rise above the usual hip hop dance fare and I do see hints of that in the trailer. We are a granted a novel view of Ghana with distinct visuals and Apenteng-Mensah looks to be running a tight ship. He better be if he’s to churn the most from this cast of relative unknowns that said, I still have reasonably buoyant expectations.
Unfortunately it is scheduled for just two screenings on the 3rd and 4th of September at the national theatre. A damn shame but the struggle is the struggle. Hopefully gets an extended theatrical run afterwards. 14:32 stars Joshua Essuman – Mensah, Gideon Clottey, Deborah Vanessa, El-Nissi Anderson and Angela Amonoo-Neizer. Check out the trailer and spread the word.
Last week American Ultra opened in North America and it flopped badly after earning a meagre $5.5 million at the domestic box office. It even earned less than Hitman: Agent 47 which was killed by critics. American Ultra is a mash up of a stoner comedy and action spy thriller with stars Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart taking stage.
The film’s screenwriter, Max Landis, took to Twitter to share his thoughts on the revenue failings of his film. It is worth noting Landis penned Chronicle and he had some interesting things to say about the recent harrowing travails of his Chronicle director, Josh Trank, but that’s for another day. On American Ultra, he states that he is puzzled with the revenue outcome considering that it is a good movie. He points out the reasonably bankable stars (Stewart and Eisenberg) and feels the film should have done better than it did. He then gets to the heart of the matter: moviegoers have no love for movies with original subject matters. FYI, His film fell below old TV show reboot, a biopic and three sequels.
“…Are original ideas over? I wanted to pose this to the public, because I feel, put lightly, confused.”
”…so I’m left with an odd thing here, which is that American Ultra lost to a sequel, a sequel reboot, a biopic, a sequel and a reboot.” – Max Landis.
Landis later apologizes for the tweets on the outcome of American Ultra but he did have a point that resonates everywhere. The quasi exploitation films based on a pre-existing material, sequels, or biopics seem to own the theatres and Landis wonders whether or not films like American Ultra really have a place in theaters any longer. Landis had some more to say:
“My “talk” on Twitter was about how confusing it is to see movies like American Ultra not really know their home in theaters anymore, and it made me question my goal of being a generator of original, non-IP based content.
Studios buy less specs every year, and instead have grown to focus solely on prebought IP properties. This is alarming to me as a film fan, and also as a creator. Maybe you don’t mind if everything is based on something or a reboot or sequel or biopic. I kind of do.”
So do I Max, so do I. Audience predilections for the shinier blockbuster franchises will always exists but the truth is not everyone is a cinephile. Granted the genre mash up of American Ultra should garner more appeal and this flop was a genuine shock, the more inventive and original cinema offerings don’t do too well on the revenue spectrum because there aren’t enough purist out there to boost revenue. The lay fan doesn’t really want to spend on the quirky untested product when the video game movie is next door.
There are other factors to consider for this film’s failure like the marketing or box office mettle of its stars but chin up Landis, I’ll see your movie if it hits Ghanaian theatres. I see everything.
In 1989 the consensus was Director Spike Lee had delivered a definite GOAT with Do the Right Thing. Come the Oscars though, Lee and his film were snubbed. Fast forward 25 years and Lee is set to receive an honorary Oscar for his contributions to film-making. He is joined by Gena Rowlands, known for her work in the 1960s, 70s and 80s with director husband Nick Cassavetes. They will receive their statuettes at the Academy’s annual governor’s awards on 14 November.
It would be nice if Lee told the Academy where to shove it and he may just be petty enough to do that but this recognition is a tad too late. Lee is undoubtedly one of the finest directors out there although he has been kind of shaky since Inside Man. He was nominated for the best original screenplay Oscar for his race themed film in 1990 and his star Danny Aiello also scored a supporting nod do for his work but that film deserved more and by more I mean a Best picture and Directing Nomination. I won’t go into who and who got in over him but Oliver Stone ended up winning best director for his biopic, Born on the Fourth of July and Driving Miss Daisy won best picture. The latter, he says, hurt him.
Lee has still got some juice in and the upcoming Chiraq looks good so fingers crossed.
There were some Star Wars reveals this week and a lot of nerd boners but bruh, the movie will come when it comes and this extensive marketing becoming a little irritating. The teaser had me but now it’s just too much. I haven’t seen the new video (who am I kidding) and I won’t be caring about star wars till December like y’all should be doing. People are going to go on a catch a spoiler or two and I’ll be in a corner sipping. I’m on full guard now. Its 2015, everyone has to.